Eddie shared his guide to some of the “Fantastic Beasts” in his new film with the New York Times.
Anticipation for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” has been so high that fans began dressing up as its main character, Newt Scamander, based solely on the trailer. That surprised its star, Eddie Redmayne, when he attended Comic-Con International in July and looked out into the audience only to see several Newts staring back at him.
“I found that deeply exciting and weirdly shocking,” he said by phone from London. Imagine what will happen when the movie arrives Nov. 18, and eager Harry Potter fans get another look at J. K. Rowling’s wizarding world.
Ms. Rowling’s story — this is her debut as a screenwriter — follows a self-proclaimed “magizoologist” who was expelled from Hogwarts but eventually wrote one of the school’s most important textbooks. He has been traveling the world collecting, studying and building relationships with all kinds of magical beasts, toting them in a suitcase as part of his mission to educate wizards about why beasts are so important to them. But when some creatures escape and take to the streets of 1926 New York, the mishap could expose the wizarding world and lead to war.
While the beasts are at the heart of the film’s title, humans are at the heart of its story, said David Heyman, a producer on the “Harry Potter” movies: “The ‘Potter’ films and this film all emanate from a place of character. Newt is an outsider, a bit like all of J. K.’s characters.” That’s why he feels best able to connect with the beasts, though eventually he connects with people as well.
But about those beasts. To learn how to work with them, Mr. Redmayne (left, with Katherine Waterston and Colin Farrell in the film) spent time at wildlife parks observing animal handlers. He incorporated his research into his character, and into the movie. Here, Mr. Redmayne explains how a baby anteater proved inspiring, why he needed an animator on set with him and which beast is his favorite (though he loves them all, really).
While Newt knows he shouldn’t have favorites among the beasts, there is one he’s quite fond of, and it’s Mr. Redmayne’s favorite as well: the skinny, plantlike Bowtruckle, which is difficult to spot thanks to its ability to blend into foliage. Newt has four Bowtruckles. They eat only insects and are loyal to their handlers. “They’re wonderful at picking locks,” Mr. Redmayne said. “There’s a specific Bowtruckle called Pickett who Newt loves. Pickett has attachment issues, and Newt lets him swing along in his top pocket.”
The Swooping Evil
Butterfly meets pterodactyl in this colorful winged beast with the ability to suck out brains. “My inner 9-year-old is obsessed with the Swooping Evil,” Mr. Redmayne said. “He’s like this spiky ball with a thread that hangs down from Newt’s finger. When you spin him out, almost like a yo-yo, he unfurls into this terrifying creature.” Newt sporadically milks venom from the Swooping Evil, but he’s still studying how the venom can be put to use.
This beast has large eyes like an owl but otherwise moves like and resembles a primate, hairy and agile. “It has this capacity to go from being visible to invisible, so their pelts can be used to make invisibility cloaks,” Mr. Redmayne said. That’s why the Demiguise is often hunted and remains very rare. It also has a kind of precognitive vision; to catch it, spontaneous tricks are necessary.
The Niffler is a small furry creature with a platypus-like snout and an appetite for shiny things. Newt’s interactions with him are based on Mr. Redmayne’s observations of a zoologist working with a baby anteater. “It would curl up into a little ball, and in order to make it relax, she would tickle his little belly,” he said. “There’s a moment where the Niffler has gorged himself on glittery stuff, and Newt is trying to get him to release his jewels. So he ends up tickling him.”
Each of the beasts is a computer-generated creation designed and brought to life by a specific artist. For his scenes with the Niffler, Mr. Redmayne asked the animator Pablo Grillo to act out the creature’s mannerisms on the set so that the person most aware of its nuances could help give depth to his performance. “My fear was doing a lot of green screen, because I have quite a dodgy imagination,” Mr. Redmayne said.
A video from the new Fall/Winter Menswear Campaign for Prada featuring Eddie!
Eddie Redmayne is opening up about his mysterious storyline in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Below, the Oscar-winning Theory of Everything star takes a bunch of our burning questions about his role as magi-zoologist Newt Scamander in the Harry Potter spin-off, which opens Nov. 18.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start at the beginning: When did you first hear about this project?
EDDIE REDMAYNE: I think it must have been two years ago. I got a call to have a meeting with [director David Yates], and he talked through the story in the vaguest of terms and said there will be a script in five months time and then we’d have a meeting on it again. Everything was hyper-secret. I was so excited at the prospect, and then there was nervousness, because what if I read the script [and didn’t connect with the character].
After your prestige roles, was going to a big, broad audience vehicle like this attractive or no?
When you start out acting, you dream of getting an agent and getting a job. For years, you audition and you get what you can. Choice isn’t something that you have much of. What was interesting about this, one doesn’t often get these opportunities, but you look at it like any other script. Because a film can look amazing, but if you can’t find anything in that character… so there was the drumroll to reading the script: What would the character be? And what’s lovely is that J.K. Rowling has a staggering imagination to the thoroughness of the world. There were so many elements to Newt. I met her once, and she could talk back through everything, every intricacy. You’re not playing a real character, but in J.K. Rowling’s mind, [Newt is] entirely three-dimensional, and you can talk to her about what his life was like.
Did Rowling help with anything specific?
One of the wonderful things about the script is when you read it, it’s not just what the characters say, it’s the stage directions and descriptions in between. You have to read each thing; you can’t just skim it. When I met her, our instincts were pretty similar; it was just little details of his background that she was particularly helpful with.
How would you describe Newt?
He’s a man with a passion, and his passion is animals. His mother bred hippogriffs, and it’s the world he’s most comfortable in. He’s not particularly comfortable with human relationships. He’s comfortable in his own skin, but he disconnects with people. People seem to misunderstand him, and he doesn’t know why, but he’s also not particularly interested in why. He has his own relationship with his animals.
Any special talents as a wizard?
He’s not an astounding wizard. He’s capable. He’s used to being physically capable when dealing with animals.
RELATED: Secrets of the Fantastic Beasts Trailer Revealed
And you studied animal trainers for this, right?
I had a few months to prepare. I had never done a film of this scale, and I don’t have a particularly lot of imagination, and there’s a lot of interaction with animals and fantastic things and working with puppeteers. How does one go about prepping for that? Going out to these amazing zoos, to parks, and going into cages with animals and meeting their keepers and hearing what their lives are. I spent a day or two with a gentleman who lives in the forest, and tracking is his thing. And it’s about using all of your senses — from smell to sight to peripheral vision to sound — and knowing things like using plants for antidotes. Also, when you are tracking animals physically, he was showing me this thing. [Redmayne demonstrates planting his feet starting with the side of shoes first.] It created this slightly open gait that Newt has.
What does Newt think of America?
When he first arrives in New York, you see him walking down the street, and the way he’s observing the city is the way that he would observe a natural habitat. He’s kind of smelling it; it’s as if he were in the jungle. It’s totally alien to him to see somewhere that’s filled with such vibrancy and people. The 1920s has a prohibition quality, and that’s been put into magical terms — but I don’t want to give too much away.
How was working on such an effects-driven film?
I’ve done CGI films where the whole world is green, and you have no context. What’s amazing is the amount of puppeteers or dancers or people you work with who will then not be there. There is a magic that you feel when the art department sends you 12 mock-ups of wands and you get to have a full-on discussion of what wand to have. It’s the stuff kids’ dreams are made of. The hardest thing was the months of prep of working with the visual effects department, talking to Jo [Rowling] and David [Yates] about what the specific relationships and characterization of all of these different animals so that Newt could interact with them with a kind of fluency that made you really believe in his love of them and his care for them.
This past week Eddie & Hannah have been in Rio de Janeiro enjoying the Olympics and I have added some pics to the gallery!
– Eddie Redmayne Web > 2016 > August 6 | Olympics – Omega House In Rio
– Eddie Redmayne Web > 2016 > August 6 | Olympics – Omega House In Rio Launch Party
– Eddie Redmayne Web > 2016 > August 7 | Olympics – Swimming
– Eddie Redmayne Web > 2016 > August 9 | Olympics – Swimming
EW.com asked Eddie which Harry Potter book and film were his favorite.
You have your favorites. We have ours. And now Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them star Eddie Redmayne is revealing his.
We asked the Theory of Everything Oscar winner which Harry Potter book and film were his favorites in the saga that serve as the foundation for his spin-off prequel film.
“My favorite film is probably the finale — Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” Redmayne said.
That’s probably a wise choice since it’s one of the four Potter titles helmed by Fantastic Beasts director David Yates.
“With the last two, they had something I kept rewatching, going back and watching Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Radcliffe do that extraordinary duel,” he said of the second film’s climatic scene. “When you’re [casting spells on set], the effects of this huge tension of what’s coming out of your wand is put [into the shot in post-production; you’re] literally acting with nothing, and I found it so operatic and deeply moving. I found it so climatically satisfying.”
And his favorite J.K. Rowling book?
“I suppose I’d go with the first,” he said, referring to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. “My little brother, when he was 6 years old, he would always read it, and it had that instant immersion into the world that made you release your imagination.”